Stock Content on Your Website

I work with lots of bad web content. It’s my job. But it’s usually been written by the owner of the website. I completely understand why people do this. If nothing else, writing is like reading or driving — everyone does it, and it can seem odd to people to pay for something that seems like an ordinary everyday skill.

But I’ve recently been encountering bad writing for hire. You can go to an article mill and pay relatively low prices for articles. One blogger explained that “quality isn’t always important” when he wrote about his experiences with one of these services, and of course he’s right.

The image in this post is not beautiful. I like to show you beautiful images sometimes, but in this case, since I’m writing about stock content, this very uninspired stock image seems completely appropriate. True, the pencil is a bit large compared to the paper, the writing surface is unnatural, and the whole thing is lifeless, but it was free.

So if you find yourself in a situation in which for some reason you just want a whole bunch of words, and you don’t care much how good they are, you can just buy words in bulk in the form of articles. If you decide to do that, here are some things to look for that can help you get the most for your investment:

  • Don’t accept errors. Lots of these content farm articles have no particular point to make, but there’s no reason to accept grammatical errors, typos, or spelling mistakes. You can get accurate if uninspired English for a nickel a word. If you plan to pay less than that, you should just use automatically generated text, because you won’t have actual people reading the article anyway.
  • Try for a main point of some kind. If you read many of these articles, you’ll notice that they tend to be very boring. This is because they usually involve reading some factual information and repeating it (“regurgitating” is how one of my correspondents phrased it) in slightly new words. Give your cheap writer a point to make, and your article will be much better. If you’re buying articles by the yard, you don’t usually have this option, but it’s worth shooting for.
  • If you find a good writer, stock up. Some article mills will let you choose your writer, though you may pay more for that. There’s so much well-paying work available for good writers that anyone who can actually write well moves out of the article mill market quickly, so you should take advantage of them before they wise up and move on.

Of course, I don’t use stock text, though I use stock images and stock sounds, but I think these tips will help you get the most for your money if you choose to do so.


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